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Islamic World News ( 4 Feb 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Libya's Gaddafi Chosen to Lead African Union

Africa summit debates Gaddafi's unity plan

Indian Women cross borders to rise against terror

India’s 'Taliban' ban Girls from mixed madrasas

Turkey's Turn From the West by By Soner Cagaptay

Man gets 30 lashes for smoking on Saudi plane

Three women abduct, rape man in Karachi

Palestine-Israel: The One State Solution

'Pak may become a failed state with nuclear arsenal'

To stanch spread of radical Islam, Saudi Arabia woos detainees


Two soldiers beheaded in Muslim southern Thailand

Islamabad ponders ‘Future Agenda of Change — Islam and West’

New Somali president faces a difficult task

Demonstrators in Al-Shabaab-held Baidoa oppose new Somali president

Sinners, Saints and Stocks: Guided by Faith


Obama has been conveying his "respect" for the Muslim world from his   Inaugural festivities onwards

OIC calls for measures against rising vandalism in Crimea

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Libya's Gaddafi Chosen to Lead African Union

By AP / ANITA POWELL Monday, Feb. 02, 2009

(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was elected Monday as leader of the African Union, a position long sought by the eccentric dictator pushing his oil-rich nation into the international mainstream after years of isolation.


Some African leaders offered tepid praise for the choice of Gaddafi, who grabbed power in a 1969 coup. Rights groups called him a poor model for Africa at a time when democratic gains are being reversed in countries such as Mauritania and Guinea. (See pictures of Ethiopia's harvest of hunger.)


Once ostracized by the West for sponsoring terrorism, Gaddafi has been trying to increase Libya's presence on the global stage and its regional influence — mediating African conflicts, sponsoring efforts to spread Islam on the continent and pushing for the creation of a single African government.


He attended the session dressed in a gold-embroidered green robe and flanked by seven extravagantly dressed men who said they are the "traditional kings of Africa." Gaddafi told about 20 of his fellow heads of state that that he would work to unite the continent into "the United States of Africa."


Gaddafi arrived at the summit Sunday with the seven men, one carrying a 4-ft. gold staff, and caused a stir when security officials did not admit them because each delegation gets only four floor passes. All seven "kings" were seated behind Gaddafi when he accepted the chairmanship.


"I think the coming time will be a time of serious work and a time of action and not words," he said.


The chairmanship of the African Union is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year and gives the holder some influence over the continent's politics but carries no real power.


Diplomats who attended the closed-door meetings in which Gaddafi was chosen said several countries vigorously opposed him, seeking alternatives from Lesotho and Sierra Leone. However, the AU's chairmanship rotates among Africa's regions, and a North African had not been chaired the continental body since 2000, when Algeria held the chairmanship.


Meetings to select the chairman are held in private. The leader is usually nominated and then chosen by consensus. AU officials would not give details of the proceedings, including which countries objected.


Even in public the reception to his appointment — and the acceptance ceremony in which he invited two of the traditional kings to speak — was measured.


"I think his time has come," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the Associated Press. "He's worked for it. I think it's up to us to make sure it comes out best."


Since he seized power Gaddafi has ruled the oil-rich state with an iron hand and the often quixotic ideology laid out in his famous "Green Book," which outlines Gaddafi's anti-democratic and economic policies.


In 2007, his regime released five Bulgarian nurses and a naturalized Palestinian doctor after eight years in prison for allegedly infecting Libyan children with HIV. They were released following a deal struck by the European Union that involved payment of millions of dollars in aid to Libya.


"The Libyan government continues to imprison people for criticizing Gaddafi," said Reed Brody, a Brussels-based lawyer with Human Rights Watch who watched Gaddafi take the helm of the AU. "Hundreds more have been 'disappeared.' Libya has no independent NGOs and the government tightly controls all forms of public expression."


The large North African country is perhaps best known for the 1988 downing of a Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 people on board the flight from Heathrow to New York were killed when a bomb exploded. Another 11 people died on the ground.


The bombing prompted United Nations-imposed sanctions and breaking of diplomatic ties with Britain and the United States.


Libya has paid several billion dollars to the families of Lockerbie victims, and has accepted "general responsibility" for the attack. Sanctions have since been lifted and diplomatic ties re-established.


Gaddafi renounced terrorism in 2003 and Libya has paid out over a billion dollars to the families of the Lockerbie victims.


Libya has also entered into deals with major oil companies for exploitation of its reserves and re-established diplomatic ties with the U.S.


Gaddafi has also been involved in mediating the conflict in Darfur with little success. He has mediated between Chad and Sudan — both have accused each other of supporting the other's rebel groups. The Libyan leader's mediation has resulted in deals between Chad and Sudan, which have later been violated.


Libya has never held the chairmanship in the 46-year history of the African Union and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. This contributed to his being denied the chairmanship of the Organization of African Unity in 1982.


Africa summit debates Gaddafi's unity plan

By Daniel Wallis and Barry Moody – Sun Feb 1, 6:55 am ET


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – African leaders set aside the first day of an annual summit on Sunday to discuss Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's long-standing pet project to establish a United States of Africa.

Delegates said that although some countries are wary of the idea, and a 2007 summit in Ghana devoted to it ended with no deal because of opposition, delegates felt obliged to debate the plan because of the huge funds that the Libyan leader has poured into parts of Africa.

Gaddafi, one of the continent's longest-serving leaders, has for years pressed for a federal pan-regional government, arguing that it is essential to meet the challenges of globalization, fight poverty and resolve conflicts without Western interference.

Some leaders, including Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade, are keen on the idea.

Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, said the first day of the February 1-3 summit would focus on Gaddafi's proposal.

"I remain optimistic that yes, it will be a reality," he told reporters ahead of the meeting. "The question we are discussing is not whether it will be a reality, but when, and how."

Commission chairman Jean Ping said recently views on the speed of integration varied from nine to 35 years, but the continent needed to speak with a united voice to be heard in international negotiations on trade and other issues including climate change.

All 53 AU member states agree in principle with the goal of continental integration. But some -- led by economic powerhouse South Africa -- say it must be a gradual process.

"Gaddafi has given a lot of money to these leaders over the years," said one east African delegate who asked not to be named.


"It is important to him, so they will discuss it. But the challenges of making it work, obviously, are vast."

The official theme of this week's summit at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa is boosting infrastructure, which experts say is essential if Africa is to weather the global financial crisis.

But conflict and crisis in Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are expected, as usual at AU summits, to overshadow the official agenda.

Delegates have been given some breathing space by positive developments in recent days in two of the most intractable problems: Somalia's two decades of violence and Zimbabwe's economic collapse.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist leader, is attending the talks after he was sworn in as Somalia's new president at U.N.-led talks in Djibouti.

He is attending the summit in the very country whose powerful army ousted him as leader of a sharia courts movement that briefly ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in 2006. Ethiopia's troops withdrew from Somalia last month, clearing the way for new moves to end the conflict.

On Friday, Zimbabwe's opposition agreed to form a government with veteran President Robert Mugabe, ending deadlock that had deepened a political and economic meltdown. Mugabe is attending the summit but made no comment to reporters when he arrived.

AU officials say the exclusion from the summit of Mauritania and Guinea, which both suffered military coups in recent months, proved the continent had moved on from its chequered past, when leaders seldom criticized or even commented on violence and tyrannical rule.

The latest trouble has been in Madagascar, where a firebrand opposition leader said on Saturday he had taken charge. The Indian Ocean island's president denied it.

Late on Saturday, AU Commission chairman Ping told Reuters the rules of the pan-African body on coups were clear and that any attempt to seize power illegitimately would be rejected.

(Editing by Dominic Evans)


Indian Women cross borders to rise against terror

1 Feb 2009, 0329 hrs IST, TNN


 Lucknow: The terror attacks all over the world have seen emotional outbursts. There have been deliberations and dialogues over the issue but most of them have been in the male domain. But now, women, who are no less sufferers of the terror attacks, have been given a platform; not only to share their plight but also to stand against violence. The opportunity has come through an organisation -- SAVE (Sisters Against Violent Extremism).


Lucknow University has become the front-runner in joining the group in its India chapter. SAVE, part of a Vienna-based NGO, Women Without Borders (India), is two months old. It is striving to forge alliances with schools and universities. "It is there where we can find youths," said Edith Schlaffer, chairperson of the organisation. "We want to sensitise youths against terror," said Schlaffer.


SAVE conducted a workshop in Lucknow University on Saturday in collaboration with UGC academic staff college and Institute of Women's Studies. Apart from girl students, a lot of women who have been working for a social cause in the city took part in the workshop.


LU will conduct a research to ascertain the causes that lead to violence. The research will be carried out by Institute of Women's Studies. It will trace the causes of violence, both locally and globally. The academic staff college, on the other hand, will develop a module to train the teachers on handling violence and unrest on the campus in normal circumstances.


"We have just begun but in due process we wish to bring in more and more women within this initiative's fold," said Nishi Pandey, director, UGC academic staff college, LU. The university wishes to sensitise women against violence and instill in them courage to stand against it.


The women who have suffered in recent terror attacks all over the world are being given a chance to interact about their sufferings with others through this group. There is no membership that the group accords to these women. It only provides a platform through which they can talk about their losses and victimisation.


"We are not into rehabilitating these women," said Archana Kapoor, who works for SAVE in India. She added that the platform aims to bring the agonising experiences of women to others so that there can be a strong public opinion against terror. Delhi Public School has also joined the initiative. The efforts have been started as pilot projects.


Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi urges Iran to change

Barbara Slavin

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi appealed Monday for the Iranian government to respect human rights and encouraged the U.S. government and private groups to reach out to Iranians despite the arrests of activists who have met with Americans.


She spoke as the State Department disclosed that a U.S. women's badminton team will travel to Tehran this week to participate in an international tournament.




Thirty years after the Iranian revolution, Ms. Ebadi, whose Tehran rights center was shut down by the government in December, said the human rights situation in Iran was bad before the revolution, when the country was ruled by a dictatorial shah, and bad now.


"Bad is bad," she told a packed audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Human rights are universal. ... What we want is the application of the international obligations of the government of Iran."


Ms. Ebadi, 61, in 2003 became the first Muslim woman to win the peace prize. A judge before the revolution, she was forced to give up her post after 1979 and turned to defending the rights of women, children and religious minorities who face discrimination under Iran's Islamic system.


The fault is not Islam, she said, but the way it has been interpreted in Iran.


"Religion has to be interpreted such that human rights can be applied," she said. "You don't find any religion that says that people can be murdered or tortured. All religions say people are created equal."


Ms. Ebadi said U.S.-Iran contacts should continue despite the arrests of Iranians who have participated in conferences with Americans about subjects as nonpolitical as the treatment of HIV/AIDS.


Iran recently sentenced AIDS doctors Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei to three and six years in prison, respectively, on charges of trying to foment a so-called velvet revolution.


Americans participating in exchanges have also been harassed. Iranian security officials interrogated Glenn Schweitzer, head of the Eurasia program of the National Academies of Science, for nine hours in Tehran in December before allowing him to catch his plane home.


Ms. Ebadi said there should be three levels of dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, which have not had diplomatic relations since 1980: people to people; president to president; and parliament to parliament.


President Obama, who while campaigning promised to seek direct talks with Iran, has not made clear at what level he will try to engage the Tehran government.


Briefly jailed in 2000 for representing the relatives of intellectuals killed by regime vigilantes in the mid-1990s, Ms. Ebadi has faced new pressures in recent months.


In December, government-organized protesters demonstrated outside her home and office in Tehran, chanted death threats against her and accused her of supporting U.S. and Israeli "crimes" in Gaza.


Despite the harassment, she said Monday that she would return to Tehran as scheduled on Friday.


"I'm an Iranian," she said. "I was born in Iran, I was raised in Iran, I work in Iran, and I will die in Iran."

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Turkey's Turn From the West

By Soner Cagaptay

Monday, February 2, 2009; Page A13


Turkey is a special Muslim country. Of the more than 50 majority-Muslim nations, it is the only one that is a NATO ally, is in accession talks with the European Union, is a liberal democracy and has normal relations with Israel. Under its current government by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), however, Turkey is losing these special qualities. Liberal political trends are disappearing, E.U. accession talks have stalled, ties with anti-Western states such as Iran are improving and relations with Israel are deteriorating. On Thursday, for example, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of a panel at Davos, Switzerland, after chiding Israeli President Shimon Peres for "killing people." If Turkey fails in these areas or wavers in its commitment to transatlantic structures such as NATO, it cannot expect to be President Obama's favorite Muslim country.

Consider the domestic situation in Turkey and its effect on relations with the European Union. Although Turkey started accession talks, that train has come to a halt. French objections to Turkish membership slowed the process, but the impact of the AKP's slide from liberal values cannot be ignored. After six years of AKP rule, the people of Turkey are less free and less equal, as various news and other reports on media freedom and gender equality show. In April 2007, for instance, the AKP passed an Internet law that has led to a ban on YouTube, making Turkey the only European country to shut down access to the popular site. On the U.N. Development Program's gender-empowerment index, Turkey has slipped to 90th from 63rd in 2002, the year the AKP came to power, putting it behind even Saudi Arabia. It is difficult to take seriously the AKP's claim to be a liberal party when Saudi women are considered more politically, economically and socially empowered than Turkish women.



Then there is foreign policy. Take Turkey's status as a NATO ally of the United States: Ankara's rapprochement with Tehran has gone so far since 2002 that it is doubtful whether Turkey would side with the United States in dealing with the issue of a nuclear Iran. In December, Erdogan told a Washington crowd that "countries that oppose Iran's nuclear weapons should themselves not have nuclear weapons."


The AKP's commitment to U.S. positions is even weaker on other issues, including Hamas. During the recent Israeli operations in Gaza, Erdogan questioned the validity of Israel's U.N. seat while saying that he wants to represent Hamas on international platforms. Three days before moderate Arab allies of Washington, including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, gathered on Jan. 19 in Kuwait to discuss an end to the Gaza conflict, Erdogan's officials met with Iran, Syria and Sudan in Qatar, effectively upstaging the moderates. Amazingly, Turkey is now taking a harder line on the Arab-Israeli conflict than even Saudi Arabia.


For years, Turkey has had normal relations with Israel, including strong military, tourist, and cultural and commercial ties. The Turks did not emphasize religion or ideology in their relationship with the Jewish state, so Israelis felt comfortable visiting, doing business and vacationing in Turkey. But Erdogan's recent anti-Israeli statements -- he even suggested that God would punish Israel -- have made normal relations a thing of the past. On Jan. 4, 200,000 Turks turned out in freezing rain in Istanbul to wish death to Israel; on Jan. 7, an Israeli girls' volleyball team was attacked by a Turkish audience chanting, "Muslim policemen, bring us the Jews, so we can slaughter them."


Emerging anti-Semitism also challenges Turkey's special status. Anti-Semitism is not hard-wired into Turkish society -- rather its seeds are being spread by the political leadership. Erdogan has pumped up such sentiments by suggesting Jewish culpability for the conflict in Gaza and alleging that Jewish-controlled media outlets were misrepresenting the facts. Moreover, on Jan. 6, while demanding remorse for Israel's Gaza operations, Erdogan said to Turkish Jews, "Did we not accept you in the Ottoman Empire?" Turkey's tiny, well-integrated Jewish community is being threatened: Jewish businesses are being boycotted, and instances of violence have been reported. These are shameful developments in a land that has provided a home for Jews since 1492, when the Ottomans opened their arms to Jewish people fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. The Ottoman sultans must be spinning in their graves.


The erosion of Turkey's liberalism under the AKP is alienating Turkey from the West. If Turkish foreign policy is based on solidarity with Islamist regimes or causes, Ankara cannot hope to be considered a serious NATO ally. Likewise, if the AKP discriminates against women, forgoes normal relations with Israel, curbs media freedoms or loses interest in joining Europe, it will hardly endear itself to the United States. And if Erdogan's AKP keeps serving a menu of illiberalism at home and religion in foreign policy, Turkey will no longer be special -- and that would be unfortunate.


Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is the author of "Islam Secularism and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who Is a Turk?"


Three women abduct, rape man in Karachi

3 Feb 2009, 0130 hrs IST, AGENCIES


KARACHI: Karachi police have registered a case against three unidentified women who allegedly abducted a man and raped him over four consecutive

days, and later throwing him near Qayyumabad River in an unconscious state.


The victim identified as Khalil, 23, works as a waiter at a restaurant. Khalil revealed that, on the night of January 27, an identified man ordered him to deliver food to the women sitting in a car outside the restaurant.


“After giving me the order, the man went towards the car. I took the order to the car where the women told me that they had recently shifted to the area,” the Daily Times quoted him as saying. The women then asked him to deliver food to their house every day. “They asked me to go along with them in the car to see me where their house was,” he added. Once they got to the house, “they gave me milk that had some drug in it ... I fell unconscious after drinking it”.


As he regained consciousness, Khalil found that the women “were forcing themselves onto me”. According to assistant superintendent of police Asad Raza, the women sexually assaulted Khalil for four days, and then threw him near Qayyumabad river. “His condition is really bad ... his genitals are bleeding and he cannot walk properly,” said Raza.


Raza said the women belonged to rich families of Karachi’s Clifton area. “It’s a complicated case ... but we are hoping that we will solve it soon,” he added.


Meanwhile, in another bizarre case in Karachi, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) police on Monday arrested four robbers, including a police constable, on charges of looting passengers and seized weapons, motorcycle and car from their possession.


SSP CID Police Chaudhry Aslam said incidents of robbing passengers returning home from foreign countries were on the rise. The CID, after receiving a tip-off, asked a car and two bikes’ riders to stop. However, they opened fire at the cops, who retaliated.


All four people riding the car, were arrested. One of the four accused, Khalid Amir, is a police constable, serving at Shara-e-Faisal Police Station.



Man gets 30 lashes for smoking on Saudi plane

2 Feb 2009, 1523 hrs IST, AFP


RIYADH: A Sudanese man has been sentenced to 30 lashes for smoking on a domestic Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, local media reported on Monday.



The unnamed man had refused to put out his cigarette on the flight to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah from Qurayyat in northern Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Gazette said.


He was arrested by police when the aircraft landed in Jeddah and sentenced to 30 lashes by a local court. The man apologised and said he was attending clinic to help him stop smoking, according to the report



India’s 'Taliban' ban Girls from co-educational madrasas


Mail Today Bureau

Lucknow, February 3, 2009              

Muslim intellectuals and organisations from across the country have condemned the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrassa Education's (UPBME) order banning girls from co-educational madrasas, terming it "Talibani high-handedness". Various organisations have called it a "fatwa inspired by Taliban" and declared that it would be unacceptable to the masses. They allege that it was a design of the anti-education elements to push Muslim society into the dark ages.


"The people will reject this decision simply because it is neither practical nor religious. It is against the masses and also against the spirit of Quran," says Dr Ali Ahmad Fatmi, head of the Urdu department of Allahabad University and a well-known writer. He adds: "The first verse of Quran speaks about education and doesn't ask the followers to deprive women of education." The row erupted on Sunday when the UPBME issued an order to remove girls from co-educational madrassas in the state.


The board finds co-education un-Islamic. Haji Rizwanul Haq, chairman of the UPBME, asked all 1,900 board-affiliated madrassas to show the doors to all girl students in and above Class IX because it was "against Sharia". This order will interrupt the education of over 25,000 girl students in the state, who will be given their school-leaving certificates and asked to sit at home.


Small consolation that girls in lower classes have been spared. "We are not going to disturb the girls from classes I to VIII. But those in higher classes wouldn't be allowed to study. Purdah is essential in Islam.


Allowing girls to continue in madrassas means defying the spirit of Islam," Haq says.


"We can follow the Islamic law only by doing away with co-education. We also want to follow it meticulously and to ensure that the madrassas follow the instruction," he adds.


Dr M.A. Siddiqi, president of the All India United Muslim Morcha, rejects the order calling it "Talibani highhandedness". "The Quran doesn't prohibit co-education.


If these people had any problems with girls, they should have ensured more schools for them before taking such an' extreme step," Siddiqui says.


Lyricist Javed Akhtar minces no words when he says, "What else can you expect from them? They should make it clear whether they want girls to be educated at all, by giving them separate madrassas." Akhtar echoes Siddiqui when he says, "Instead of first setting up separate madrasa for girls, they preferred to throw out the girls and stop their education." "Sometimes I feel that fundamentalists of all religions don't like women. Everything is done to segregate women and reduce their space.


"It's as if the responsibility of culture, tradition, morality is only with women.


Men can drink, wear western clothes, go to pubs but women can't. This attitude is common to all fundamentalists of all religions and all communities," Akhtar adds.


Shaista Amber, chairperson of All India Mulsim Mahila Personal Law Board, an advocate of appointment of women as Maulvis, says: " Such orders shouldn't be taken seriously. It is unfortunate that such people are trying to pull back the community into oblivion. How can we expect an educated family without having an uneducated woman there?" " Those who have little idea about educating our girls shouldn't be given the power to decide the fate of their education. I request responsible members of the community to ensure better educational opportunities for our girls so that they can join the mainstream of development," she adds.


Chairman of National Minorities Commission, Mohammed Shafi Qureshi, says: "Have those who had passed this order given the solution in the longer run? Where would our girls go to find all- girls institutions if they want to study engineering, medical and other professional courses? Will girls becoming doctors from our community only operate on women? Can somebody give a reply to this before passing the order? Segregation at schools will only end careers of minority women, who are already lagging in education.'' Anees Ahmed, the state minority welfare minister, under whose ministry the UPBME falls, has come out in support of the board. "I agree that after an age, girls and boys shouldn't study together. Co- education is unwise not only in Islam but also in Hinduism," he says.

Courtesy: Mail Today


'Pak may become a failed state with nuclear arsenal'

Press Trust Of India

New Delhi, February 01, 2009

First Published: 10:33 IST(1/2/2009)

Last Updated: 10:38 IST(1/2/2009)


With Pakistan dithering over the global call to act against terror groups involved in the Mumbai terror strikes, a US-based intelligence think-tank has projected that the South Asian state can very well turn into a "failed country" soon.


"Pakistan already is a country in crisis, and in some ways it is hard to imagine it getting much worse. But if Pakistan continues to destabilise, it could very well turn into a failed country...Albeit a failed country with a nuclear arsenal," security think-tank Stratfor said in its annual forecast on 'Jihadism'.


The report, titled 'Jihadism in 2009: The trends continue' and released in January, said Pakistan was once again the critical location for the Jihadists.


"Given the number of plots linked to Pakistan in recent years, including the November 26 Mumbai attacks and almost every significant plot since 9/11, all eyes will be watching Pakistan carefully," it said.


Slamming Pakistan for being home to al Qaeda's core leadership as it pursues its ideological war, the think-tank said the South Asian nation was also home to a number of Jihadist groups -- from the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-i- Taliban Pakistan in the northwest to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the northeast, and several others.



The One State Solution

By Elie Elhadj, author of The Islamic Shield / Special to Salem-


For a durable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Bible and the Quran must be de-politicized. In political terms, de-politicization means a single secular democratic state for Jews and Palestinians.

NEW YORK) - The Arab Israeli conflict has become a religious war. Politicizing the Bible's Genesis 15:18 politicized the Quran. Genesis 15:18 declares: "The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, unto thy seed have I given this land from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."


Defeated in 1948, powerless and humiliated in every war since that time, Arabs took refuge in Islam.


They invoked hostile Quranic Verses (such as chapter 2: verse 65, 2:120, 5:51, 5:60, 5:78), recounted purported stories of the Prophet Muhammad's troubled relationship with the Jewish tribes in Medina (Banu Qurayza, Banu Al-Nadir, and Banu Qainuqa), and drew lessons from the symbolism of substituting Friday for the Sabbath and of changing the direction during prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca. Other Quranic verses urge jihad against Muslims enemies (2:191, 2:193, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29) and promise (2:82) the martyred the delights of paradise; wine (47:15), beautiful women (44:54), silk, brocade, and gold (18:31), etc… Combined, these verses made a jihadist's career worthwhile.


In the hands of jihadist leaders, these verses transformed political frustrations into religious crusades and the jihadists into walking bombs.


For thirteen centuries, however, these were non-issues. Hundreds of thousands of Jews lived harmoniously among Muslims in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.


Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Britain's first and thus far the only person of Jewish parentage to reach the premiership (1868 and 1874-1880), described in his novel Coningsby the "halcyon centuries" during the golden age of Muslim Spain in which the "children of Ishmael rewarded the children of Israel with equal rights and privileges with themselves." Disraeli described glowingly how Muslims and Jews alike "built palaces, gardens and fountains; filled equally the highest offices of the state, competed in an extensive and enlightened commerce, and rivaled each other in renowned universities."


In 1492 the Muslim Ottoman Sultan Bayezid-II (1481-1512) encouraged great numbers of Jews to settle in the Ottoman Empire following their expulsion from Spain and Portugal.


Islam venerates Judaism. Arabs believe they share a common ancestry with the Jewish people going back to the sons of Abraham, Ismail and Ishaq. The Quran praises Abraham as the first Muslim, describing Islam as the Religion of Abraham. The Quranic Chapter 14, with its 52 Verses is named after Abraham and to Joseph the Quran names Chapter 12, with its 111 Verses. Muslim men are allowed to marry Jewish women, without the need to convert them to Islam (the children must be Muslims).


Today, Jewish-derived Arabic names like Daoud, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Mousa, Sara, Sulaiman, Yacoub, Yousef, Zakariyya are common in every Arab society. [Unfortunately, this is bunk. Jews are simply the common white racist, nothing more, nothing less. - WVNS]


Politicizing the Bible politicized the Quran. A vexing religious confrontation has been created pushing the moderates among Arab Muslims into orthodoxy and the orthodox into Islamism and Jihadism.


The victory of Hamas in the January 25, 2006 parliamentary elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as the popularity of Islamic Jihad, are reminders that this conflict has been delivering the Muslim masses into the hands of the Islamists. History suggests that this religious war could go on for a20thousand years. Military action alone against the Jihadists will breed more Jihadists.


Experience suggests that, like its previous victories, Israel's latest battle against Hamas in the Gaza strip that started on December 27, 2008 will strengthen jihadism.


Unless the Arab Israeli conflict is resolved politically and quickly, Islamism and Jihadism will continue on their march. Avraham Berg, speaker of Israel's Knesset in 1999-2003 and former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, articulated in sobering terms what Israel should do in order to bring peaceful coexistence between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.


The Bible and the Quran Must be De-politicized


For a durable solution to the Arab Israeli conflict, a single democratic and secular state for Jews and Palestinians needs to evolve. A single state promises a more durable long-term solution than the two-state solution, currently in vogue. The two-state solution is inherently unstable for four reasons:


1. First, demographically, a purely Jewish state is impossible to attain. Had Palestine been uninhabited at the time of Israel's creation a refugee problem would not have arisen and a purely Jewish state could have been possible. However, around the time of Israel's creation Palestine was a home to around 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs.


The Zionist dream of creating an exclusive state for the Jewish people in Palestine is unsustainable in the long-term. Presently, 1.4 million Palestinians are estimated to be citizens of Israel, or a quarter of Israel's Jewish population. Due to their high population growth rates the Palestinian-Israelis will eventually become the majority.


The Palestinian-Israelis are in addition to the 4.2 million Palestinians who live under Israel's occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Outside Palestine, 2.6 millions are registered in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, plus 1.5 million scattered worldwide.


Unless the Palestinian-Israelis somehow vanish, Israel's Jewish population will eventually become the minority and the Palestinian-Israelis the majority; the population growth rate of the Palestinian-Israelis is much greater than that of Israeli Jews. The number of Palestinians in Israel in 1948 was about 150,000. If Israel would allow the future Palestinian-Israeli majority full citizenship rights, they'll control the government. If Israel subjects the majority to an apartheid regime, the system will eventually unravel.


Apartheid regimes have short lives: Witness Rhodesia and South Africa.


2. Secondly, intractable issues stand in the way of a two-state solution: Jerusalem, borders, security for Israel and for Palestine, water rights, settlements, and the refugees' right-of-return. Since the signing of the Oslo Agreement on September 13, 1993, none of the thorny issues has been resolved. When Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yasser Arafat attempted in July 2000 to tackle these issues at Camp David, the negotiations collapsed, leading to the second intifada and to Hamas' gains in the 2006 parliamentary elections, which culminated by the take-over by Hamas of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and Israel's devastating war against Hamas eighteen months later.


3. Thirdly, even if a miracle patches up a two-state agreement the extremists on both sides would undermine the agreement. The extremists believe that they are divinely ordained to keep-up the struggle until they control the entirety of the land.


4. Fourthly, the Arab masses w ill shun a Zionist state. Judging from Israel's peace treaties with Egypt (March 26, 1979) and Jordan (October 26, 1994), relations among the Egyptian and Jordanian masses and Israelis failed to develop beyond small diplomatic missions.


Western democratic and secular ideals should inspire the development of a single, democratic, and secular state for Palestinians and Jews. There are three reasons in support of such a development:


1. First, the intractable obstacles that have bedeviled the two-state solution would disappear.


2. Secondly, a single state will commingle Palestinians and Jews into an inseparable mix. The Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, estimated at about half a million in more than 125 settlements, could become instruments of integration between Palestinians and Jews, not segregation; a mixture of Jews among Arabs as difficult to unscramble as removing the Palestinian Israelis from Israel. A single state would lead the Arab governments to recognize the new state. Muslims everywhere, Arabs especially, would no longer have an excuse to boycott their Jewish "cousins." Economic, cultural, educational, and social interaction would follow. The two sides would quickly learn=2 0how much they could benefit from one other.


3. Thirdly, a single state solution would allow Arabs and Jews full access to the entirety of Palestine.


The secular democratic one-state solution has been gathering pace. A well attended conference by Arabs and Israelis at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was held on November 17-18, 2007 to address the various aspects of this concept.


Arab and Jew Can Live Together in Peace


Around the time of Israel's creation, more than 850,000 Jews migrated from Arab countries, 600,000 going to Israel. The charge that the Jews migrated because of Arab maltreatment is an unfair political expediency. The migration happened in the course of Israel's creation.



During this period, 531 Palestinian villages were depopulated and 805,000 refugees lost their homes, according to Palestinian sources (650,000 to 700,000 refugees, according to Jewish sources).


Had Zionism adhered to the stipulation in the 1917 Balfour declaration: "Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine," the Muslim/Jewish conflict would not have developed.


Durable peace and the long-term prosperity of the Jewish people in the Arab World require the genuine welcome of the Arab masses. Smart bombs and nuclear weapons cannot force Arab peoples' acceptance of a Zionist Israel. The 600,000 Jews, who had lived in Arab countries for centuries and are today a major proportion of Israel's Jewish population, could become a positive link with the Arab World. They share with the Arab peoples many customs, habits, values, food, music, dance, and, for the older generation, the Arabic language.


Whether it would be a good bargain to exchange a partial and declining Jewish exclusivity in an unstable two-state solution for a durable single state embracing Jews and Muslims is a question Israel's Jewish people alone can answer.


In provoking the enmity of their age-old Muslim friends, Zionism has disserved the long-term interests of the Jewish people.


* Elie Elhadj is the author of Elie Elhadj, author of The Islamic Shield: Arab Resistance to Democratic and Religious Reforms, and many articles which can be read here:




Islamic-based legislation may be a key issue in this year’s elections.

Monday February 02, 2009

DUBLIN, February 2 (Compass Direct News) – As candidates hit the campaign trail in preparation for Indonesia’s presidential election in July, rights groups have voiced strong opposition to an increasing number of sharia-inspired laws introduced by local governments. They say the laws discriminate against religious minorities and violate Indonesia’s policy of Pancasila, or “unity in diversity.”


With legislative elections coming in April and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono likely to form a coalition with several Islamic parties for the July presidential election, such laws could become a key campaign issue.


Although Aceh is the only province completely governed by sharia (Islamic law), more than 50 regencies in 16 of 32 provinces throughout Indonesia have passed laws influenced by sharia. These laws became possible following the enactment of the Regional Autonomy Law in 2000.


The form of these laws varies widely. Legislation in Padang, West Sumatra, requires both Muslim and non-Muslim women to wear headscarves, while a law in Tangerang allows women found “loitering” alone on the street after 10 p.m. to be arrested and charged with prostitution. Other laws include stipulations for Quran literacy among schoolchildren and severe punishment for adultery, alcoholism and gambling.


“Generally the legal system regulates and guarantees religious freedom of Indonesian citizens … but in reality, discrimination prevails,” a lawyer from the legal firm Eleonora and Partners told Compass.


Some regencies have adopted sharia in a way that further marginalizes minority groups, according to Syafi’I Anwar, executive director of the International Center for Islam and Pluralism.


“For instance, the Padang administration issued a law requiring all schoolgirls, regardless of their religion, to wear the headscarf,” he told the International Herald Tribune. This is unacceptable because it is not in line with the pluralism that the constitution recognizes.”


Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Article 29 of the country’s constitution, he added. “Therefore the government must assist all religious communities to practice their beliefs as freely as possible and take actions against those who violate that right.”


While Indonesia’s largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has publicly denounced the implementation of such laws, other groups actively support them. The Committee for the Implementation and Maintenance of Islamic Law (KPPSI) has held several congresses in Makassar, South Sulawesi with the goal of passing sharia-inspired legislation and obtaining special autonomy for the province, similar to that in Aceh.


KPPSI has also encouraged members to vote for politicians who share their goals, according to local news agency Komintra.


‘Threatening’ Decision


In February of last year, Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto declared that the government saw no need to nullify some 600 sharia-inspired laws passed by local governments. His announcement came after a group of lawyers in June 2007 urged the government to address laws that discriminated against non-Muslims.


Moderates were alarmed at Mardiyanto’s decision, fearing it would encourage other jurisdictions to pass similar laws. Last August, Dr. Mohammad Mahfud, newly re-elected as head of the Constitutional Court, slammed regional administrations for enacting sharia-inspired laws.


“[These] laws are not constitutionally or legally correct because, territorially and ideologically, they threaten our national integrity,” he told top military officers attending a training program on human rights, according to The Jakarta Post.


Mahfud contended that if Indonesia allowed sharia-based laws, “then Bali can pass a Hindu bylaw, or North Sulawesi can have a Christian ordinance. If each area fights for a religious-based ordinance, then we face a national integration problem.” According to Mahfud, sharia-based laws would promote religious intolerance and leave minority religious groups without adequate legal protection.


Under the 2000 Regional Autonomy Law, the central government has the power to block provincial laws but showed little willingness to do so until recently when, bowing to pressure from advocacy groups, it pledged to review 37 sharia-based ordinances deemed discriminatory and at odds with the constitution.


Such reviews are politically sensitive and must be done on sound legal grounds, according to Ridarson Galingging, a law lecturer in Jakarta.


“Advocates of sharia-based laws will stress the divine origin of sharia and resist challenges [that are] based on constitutional or human rights limits,” he told The Jakarta Post. “They maintain that sharia is authorized directly by God, and political opposition is viewed as apostasy or blasphemy.”


Empowering Vigilantes


A national, sharia-inspired bill regulating images or actions deemed pornographic sparked outrage when presented for a final vote in October last year. One fifth of the parliamentarians present walked out in protest, leaving the remainder to vote in favour of the legislation.


The bill provided for up to 15 years of prison and a maximum fine of US$1.5 million for offenders.


“This law will only empower vigilante groups like the Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI),” Eva Sundari, a member of the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) told reporters. FPI is widely-regarded as a self-appointed moral vigilante group, often raiding bars and nightclubs, but also responsible for multiple attacks on churches.


“Many of the members are preparing for elections and looking for support among the Islamic community,” she added. “Now they can point to this law as evidence that they support Islamic values.”


Although several Golkar Party politicians support sharia-based laws, senior Golkar Party member Theo Sambuaga has criticized politicians for endorsing such legislation to win support from Muslim voters. Several major parties openly back sharia laws, including the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party, and the Crescent Star party.


Key Election Issue


Sharia-based laws may become an even hotter election issue this year as a change to the voting system means more weight will be given to provincial candidates.


Political analysts believe Yudhoyono must form a coalition with most if not all of the country’s Islamic parties in order to win a majority vote against the Golkar party, allied for this election with former president Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDIP.


The coalition Yudhoyono could form, however, likely would come with strings attached. As Elizabeth Kendal of the World Evangelical Alliance wrote in September 2008, “The more the president needs the Islamists, the more they can demand of him.”


In 2004, Yudhoyono partnered with the NU-sponsored National Awakening Party, the National Mandate Party (founded by the Islamic purist organization Muhammadiyah) and the PKS to achieve his majority vote. Analysts predict PKS will again be a key player in this election.


Few realize, however, that PKS draws its ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood, a group formed in Egypt in 1928 with a firm belief in Islamic world dominance. Crushed by the Egyptian government in the 1960s, members of the Brotherhood fled to Saudi Arabia, where they taught in the nation’s universities – influencing the future founders of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Sudan’s National Islamic Front.


The Brotherhood took root at a university in Bandung, West Java in the 1970s in the form of Tarbiyah, a secretive student movement that eventually morphed into the Justice Party (JP) in 1998. Winning few votes, JP allied itself with a second party to form the PKS prior to the 2004 elections.


Since then, PKS has gained widespread support and a solid reputation for integrity and commitment to Islamic values. Simultaneously, however, PKS leaders are vocal supporters of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).


Sadanand Dhume, writing in the Far Eastern Economic Review, says the two organizations have much in common. In its founding manifesto, PKS calls for the creation of an Islamic caliphate. Unlike JI, however, “the party can use its position in Parliament and its … network of cadres to advance the same goals incrementally, one victory at a time.”



To stanch spread of radical Islam, Saudi Arabia woos detainees


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Alarmed to find that detainees are emerging from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and other U.S. detention centers more devoted than ever to radical Islam, Saudi Arabia is offering counseling, financial aid and even matchmaking to pull young militants away from terrorism.


To keep the former detainees from deep-pocketed militant recruiters, Saudi officials have treated them to perks that have included new cars, resort stays, job placement and help in finding brides. They've also exposed them to moderate clerics and reminded them of Islam's restrictive rules for waging holy war, or jihad.


Saudi officials said the goal is to stop the proliferation of radical ideology that they said is bred in prisons and on the Internet. The ideology has flourished at Guantanamo and is evident among the returning Saudi detainees—even those who were moderates before they were imprisoned, Saudi officials said.


"When you associate with those guys, you become one of them," said Mansour al Turki, the Saudi government's security spokesman.


The multimillion-dollar rehabilitation program is available to most Saudis who've been accused of terrorism-related crimes, and officials estimate that as many as 2,000 have participated in the program since its inception in 2004.


The program pays special attention to those released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly every Saudi returning from American captivity undergoes up to 10 weeks of intense psychological tests, starting with an evaluation on the private plane that whisks him home from the American prison, Turki said.


The United States announced last month that it's released 390 people from Guantanamo, more than the 386 it continues to hold there. But there's little comprehensive information on what's become of those who've been released. Pentagon officials have reported that as many as two dozen have returned to the fight, but they've refused to provide specifics.


The Interior Ministry here said 65 Saudis have been released from Guantanamo, though other counts place the number at 60.


Counselors in Saudi Arabia said that the prisoners returning here are broken, humiliated and angry—the perfect prey for militant recruiters. Turki said that many men who rarely prayed before they were detained emerged from Guantanamo with bushy beards and fundamentalist beliefs.


Distracting former detainees with new jobs and marriages helps Saudi authorities keep them out of trouble and away from vengeance missions.


"People still kill each other for revenge, you know, and it's part of the custom," Turki said. "It's no good for a man to be treated in that situation and just go back and sit at home. ... If you do not actually get involved at least in the beginning of their life, then there might be actually somebody who could take advantage of this and recruit them again for terrorism."


Researchers monitor all the program's cases for common threads they've used to profile a "typical" Saudi militant: born to a middle- or upper-class family, educated past high school, in his 20s and single. His No. 1 role model is al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a fellow Saudi; he's highly knowledgeable about Islam; and he uses the Internet to communicate with like-minded Muslims across the globe.


The U.S.-led war in Iraq is the biggest factor in radicalizing Saudi youths, according to a Saudi government report.


"In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida has been destroyed as an organization," said Abdulrahman al Hadlaq, the chairman of the committee that oversees the rehabilitation program. "What is happening now is a battle, a war, of ideas."


That's why the program enlists counselors such as Sheik Mohamed al Nejeimi. He's one of 100 state-backed clerics who counter radical teachings with moderate passages from the Quran, Islam's holy book. The detainees pepper Nejeimi with easy questions such as when jihad is valid or how to fight tyranny within the framework of Islam.


But he said there's one frequently asked question that always stumps him: "Why did you let us go to Afghanistan to fight the Russians then, but won't let us go there now to fight the Americans in similar conditions?" The government's reply is that jihad should be in the interest of one's homeland. Fighting the secular Soviets in the 1980s was permissible; fighting Kabul's Muslim-led government today is not.


Critics of the rehabilitation program say the Afghanistan question illustrates the conservative Saudi monarchy's confused policies—it turns a blind eye to the radical teachings of prominent clerics but prosecutes young Saudis who put those lessons into practice.


Reform activists said the program will fail until it addresses how the kingdom's stifling social conditions, intractable monarchy and powerful religious establishment contribute to Islamist extremism.


"Most of those who were detained in Guantanamo were only volunteers, but the real fighters cannot be affected by these programs," said Abdulaziz al Gassim, an attorney and reform activist in Riyadh. "It's some sort of a bargain: They let up on their (radical) preaching, the government lets them out."


Eager to highlight a success story, Saudi security officials recently introduced journalists to a short, wiry man they said had been detained at Guantanamo. They identified him only by a nickname, Abu Suleiman, and they refused to allow reporters to ask the man his real name. It was impossible to verify his account.


Abu Suleiman said that when he was 20 years old and impressionable, he was recruited into a militant cell in the Philippines. With dreams of fighting alongside Chechen rebels, he received training in Afghanistan, where he met bin Laden "a few times" and where he was captured in late 2001 by U.S.-led forces in the mountains of Tora Bora.


In his four years at Guantanamo, one of them in isolation, Abu Suleiman said, he underwent severe U.S. interrogations "from the first day to the last day." When he was finally released last year, he expected even harsher treatment from the Saudi prison system.


Instead, Saudi authorities enrolled him in the then-nascent rehabilitation program and offered him a monthly stipend of $800. He's among 750 of the 2,000 graduates to be fully released and back in society.


Abu Suleiman jokes that his last vestige of Guantanamo is the near-perfect English he learned from his American jailers. Now 33, he's a newlywed financial analyst working in Riyadh. The program found him the job and sent a representative to congratulate him on his marriage.


"I was shocked by the good treatment," Abu Suleiman said. "They make it easy for me to forget what happened in Guantanamo."



Two soldiers beheaded in Muslim southern Thailand

Mon Feb 2, 200

BANGKOK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Suspected Muslim rebels killed and then decapitated two Thai paramilitary rangers on Monday in the Muslim-majority far south, which has been plagued by five years of separatist unrest, police said.


"They were both shot dead while they were riding out of the village and were then decapitated," a policeman, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.


The head of one of the soldiers, a Muslim, was removed from the scene, while that of his Buddhist colleague was burnt along with his body and motorbike, the officer said.


There was no claim of responsibility, a feature common to all the attacks that have claimed more than 3,000 lives in Thailand's four southernmost provinces since 2003.


The region abutting the Malaysian border was a Muslim sultanate until annexed by predominantly Buddhist Bangkok a century ago. Since then it, has been plagued by intermittent unret.


The majority of the population are Muslim and Malay-speaking, and have few links to the rest of Thailand.


The violence has ranged from drive-by shootings and bombings or beheadings, and appears to target both Buddhist and Muslims associated with the Thai state. Police, soldiers, government officials and teachers are frequent victims.


Since the unrest erupted in 2003, the rebels have never revealed themselves publicly or claimed responsibility for the violence, which has remained limited to the rubber-producing region.


There have been no signs of links to international militant networks such as Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda or its regional affiliates. (Reporting by Papitchaya Boonngok; Editing by Ed Cropley and Sanjeev Miglani)




Islamabad ponders ‘Future Agenda of Change — Islam and West’


By by Our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is organising a roundtable conference on ‘Future Agenda of Change — Islam and West’ here tomorrow (Tuesday) to deliberate on the changes on the world political horizon in general and in Pakistan in particular, The News learnt here on Sunday.


The ambassadors of various countries (Islamic and others) based in Islamabad as well as eminent scholars and foreign policy experts of the country would attend the conference to be held at the auditorium of the CII.


“Changes are imminent on the global political scene after takeover of the US administration by Barack Obama and we feel that changes are going to take place in our country as well,” said CII Chairman Professor Dr Khalid Masood while talking to The News.


The CII chairman said that the main objective of the conference is to calculate the viewpoints of the political, religious and other quarters in the country because all of them have their own views on various issues.


“The conference will also discuss as to what sort of relations the country should have with its neighbours, particularly Afghanistan and India,” Professor Dr Khalid Masood said, “This will also be deliberated whether we should solicit opinion on various issues from outside the country or not and whether foreign dictates should be accepted or not,” he added.



New Somali president faces a difficult task

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed

February 1, 2009, 13:40


Somalia’s first Islamist president will need outside financial support and must placate the nation’s myriad clans to have any chance of stabilising the country after 18 years of violence. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed must establish security quicky, tackle an array of Islamist insurgents, and hopefully end the domestic crisis.


Unless President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, 42, starts to deliver on his pledges soon, the promise of a bright new chapter in Somali history will flounder, like the 14 other attempts to form a unity government since a dictator was ousted in 1991.


"To the extent that any Somali can reunite the country under the existing situation, his choice is a good one. The challenges remain enormous and clan politics will not go away,“ said David Shinn, a Horn of Africa expert and former U.S. envoy to the region.


Establishing some security fast is a must. Government troops and some 3,500 African peacekeepers control little more than a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu and the hardline Islamist al Shabaab group has been gaining in strength.


The African Union expects to bolster its force as countries commit during a summit of African leaders in Ethiopia this week, and says that mission could become a United Nations force.


Some analysts and Ahmed’s aides worry that creating a U.N. force would be counterproductive because it could be seen as Western interference and encourage those who fought invading troops from U.S.-ally Ethiopia to pursue their struggle.


"If the international community over-reaches again and sends foreign troops, any possible chance for success will be undermined,“ said Somalia expert John Prendergast, co-chairman of the U.S.-based advocacy group the Enough Project.


More important in the short-term will be tackling an array of Islamist insurgents. Ahmed hopes the promise of peace, a steady wage and the chance of an education can lure many of the young fighters into a national security force.


Analysts say his record as chairman of the Islamic Courts Union in Mogadishu in 2006 will help. Many Islamist fighters were part of that sharia courts movement -- but he will need to re-establish leadership on the ground after a two-year exile.


Shinn said al Shabaab had internal rifts -- which Ahmed’s aides hope will now widen -- and that many young fighters were opportunists who could be persuaded to switch sides.




But to keep any fighters on board they will need to be paid, and that will require injections of cash from outside so a 10,000-strong police force can be established. Ahmed also plans to employ experienced former generals and military officers.


Mark Schroeder, Africa analyst at global intelligence company Stratfor, said he did not expect al Shabaab to cede easily: "They have not fought this fight only to see their gains usurped by Sharif.“

Ahmed will also need to woo the more hardline opposition Islamists who were strong in the Islamic Courts Union and are in exile in Eritrea. They have so far snubbed the peace process.


Getting Somalia’s clans behind government will be another big task, a challenge previous leaders have failed to meet.


"The tent Sheikh Sharif will preside over will have to be wide and deep, and consciously include genuine representatives of all clans, ideologies and regions,“ said Prendegast.


The first hurdle will be choosing a prime minister with nationwide respect that placates the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, which has so far refused to back Ahmed.


Ahmed’s party includes various clans and he would ultimately like to create a meritocracy, not necessarily bound by strict rules that now dictate the clan composition of government.


But Somali political realities mean the prime minister will almost certainly be a member of the Darod clan, and one who placates the sub-clan of former President Abdullahi Yusuf.


He will also need to appease members of the previous government who did not want an Islamist president.


"A broad-based unity government could isolate al-Shabaab,“ said Shinn. "The question is whether Sheikh Sharif can create a broad based government.“


Besides ending violence, forging peace with Ethiopia, curbing piracy, marginalising al Shabaab and developing a good relationship with the new U.S. administration, Ahmed has also pledged to rebuild social services and infrastructure.


Ahmed’s aides say delivering results on these will be crucial to show Somalis the government is making a difference.


This will require massive investment. The U.S. special envoy to Somalia, John Yates, has said Washington hopes to turn the support it gives in aid into direct development assistance.

And Shinn said getting support from wealthy Arab nations may be crucial to the government’s success.


Ahmed’s Islamist roots may prove to be an advantage. Aides say Saudia Arabia, Qatar and other Arab countries have expressed willingness to support Somalia at a donors conference they would like to hold soon, possibly in neighbouring Djibouti.


"It’s very important that we give an injection to this new hope,“ said Abdirasak Aden, a senior political adviser to Ahmed.


"Our vision is that Somalia can solve its problems through ballots, not bullets. We are tired of this war.“


Demonstrators in Al-Shabaab-held Baidoa oppose new Somali president  2009-02-02

Somali Islamist militants of a coalition of four insurgent groups parade on the outskirts of the Somali capital Mogadishu, Feb. 2, 2009. The four rebel groups, the Dr. Omar Iman faction of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Faruk Anole, Raskamboni, and the Islamic Front of Somalia, announced opposition to the newly-elected President of Somalia Shiekh Sharif Shiekh Ahmed in Mogadishu on Monday.


Somali Islamist militants of a coalition of four insurgent groups parade on the outskirts of the Somali capital Mogadishu, Feb. 2, 2009. The four rebel groups, the Dr. Omar Iman faction of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Faruk Anole, Raskamboni, and the Islamic Front of Somalia, announced opposition to the newly-elected President of Somalia Shiekh Sharif Shiekh Ahmed in Mogadishu on Monday. (Xinhua/Abdurrahman Warsameh)


    BAIDOA, Somalia, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of demonstrators organized by the Islamist Al-Shabaab movement in the southern Somali town of Baidoa on Monday protested against the election of the new President for Somalia.


    Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS), was elected as new president of the war-torn country on Saturday in a vote of the enlarged Somali parliament in Djibouti where the legislative body held its session.


    The demonstrators carried placards and posters and chanted slogans against the new administration which they accused of departing Islamic Sharia law in favour of a secular constitution.


    Although none of the senior leaders of Al-Shabaab were present, officials of the group who spoke at the rally in the local Stadium said they were opposed to any government which is not implementing Sharia law in Somalia.


    The group took over the town of Baidoa, the seat of parliament, last week shortly after Ethiopian troops withdrew from the town.


    Al-Shabaab, which has not yet officially opposed the election of Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed as president, was against the Djiboutipeace process which resulted in a power-sharing deal between the Somali transitional government and the ARS.


    "We cannot accept a secular constitution with which the new government wants to rule our country. We will keep fighting until the Sharia Islamic law is implemented in Somalia," Sheik Sharif Sheik Hussein, an official from Al-Shabaab told demonstrators at the rally.


    Speakers vowed to confront any attempt by the new administration to impose "non-Islamic laws" in the country" and accused the new president of siding with "the enemy and collaborators".


    Since his election, the new Somali president has received strong support from a number of towns and cities in the south and center of Somalia including Mogadishu, the capital.


    This is the first rally against the new president in Al-Shabaabheld areas.



'I'm not afraid'

Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February 2009, 10:10 GMT

Somalia's Islamist group, al-Shabab, has taken over the city of Baidoa, one of the last strongholds of the transitional government and the seat of parliament.


They say they will introduce Sharia law in the city.


Marian Zeila, chairperson of the Somali Media Women's Association, based in the city, give her views on the takeover.


I'm concerned that the al-Shabab militants will prevent me from carrying out the work I do here in Baidoa - fighting gender-based violence.


The fact that al-Shabab are bringing in Sharia law doesn't really worry me.


Sharia law is a part of Islam, it's in the Koran. But it's their interpretation of the law that I disagree with.


They are turning Islam into a harsh religion, which I don't believe it actually is.


My organisation is trying to empower women who suffer domestic violence - and I don't think al-Shabbab will like us encouraging women to speak out.


I am not angry with them yet, but I do wonder what effect their presence will have on the women of Baidoa.


From talking to other women, it's my impression that civil society groups here are not happy with al-Shabab.


I haven't been to work since al-Shabab took over Baidoa.


Everything seems calm at the moment, but I plan to stay at home for another four days until I can be sure that it's safe to go to work.


I did go out briefly today to the centre of town to do some shopping.


I would say that today the atmosphere in Baidoa is relatively good - I saw women and children out in the streets, they were walking around freely.


I am not afraid of al-Shabab and I don't think people in Baidoa fear them.


Wait and see


I saw members of al-Shabab around town carrying guns today. They look incredibly young.


I know that they have encouraged teenagers in Baidoa to join their movement, but they are not forcing anyone.


People working for the transitional government in Baidoa are staying indoors.


Al-Shabab have promised they will not harm them, but it remains to be seen whether this is the case.


While the transitional government was in charge there was insecurity in Baidoa, they were unable to protect civilians.


At least the al-Shabab have restored stability - for the time being.


I am 23 and I got married just one month ago.


If things stay calm in Baidoa, my husband and I will stay here. But we want to wait and see how this goes. Nobody knows what al-Shabab are planning to do."



Sinners, Saints & Stocks: Guided by Faith


Investors following Islamic and conservative Christian ideals have their faith to thank for avoiding the rocky performance of financial stocks over the past year.

02/02/09 - 11:39 AM EST


Investors following Islamic and conservative Christian ideals have their faith to thank for avoiding the rocky performance of financial stocks over the past year.

Islamic investing follows the laws of Sharia, or the laws of Islam. Generally speaking, whatever the Koran forbids a Muslim to do -- for example, drink alcohol, eat pork or gamble -- is also off limits to Islamic investors. Giving, taking and writing down a contract with interest is also prohibited, meaning no companies involved in financial services or mortgages or anything along those lines.


Monim Salaam, director of Islamic investing and portfolio manager of the Amana Funds, says his income fund avoids interest-bearing instruments by instead going after stocks that pay high dividends. The approach has won his funds five-star ratings from Morningstar.


Conservative Christian investors have avoided some of the investment houses, due to their financial backing of certain community groups supportive of homosexuals, says Jay Peroni, author of Faith Based Millionaire.


Peroni admits that some of the corporate policies are necessary to comply with the law. For instance, if the law requires companies to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners, Peroni won't hold it against them. But if a company goes beyond the basics that the law requires of it, he will count that as hostile to the pro-family agenda. He notes Aflac (AFL Quote - Cramer on AFL - Stock Picks) features many abortion foes among its top executives and its corporate policies like flexible schedules are very pro-family, making the insurer an attractive investment to like-minded Christians.


Peroni prefers companies that avoid cultural wars. For example, several financial companies are listed as corporate sponsors of the national gay and lesbian chamber of commerce. Wal-Mart (WMT Quote - Cramer on WMT - Stock Picks) supported the organization at one time, but no longer does after a Christian backlash.

Both Salaam and Peroni believe their style of investing will benefit from the current level of distrust by investors. Scandals from the likes of money managers Bernie Madoff, Nicholas Cosmo and Arthur Nagel have all lost investors thousands of dollars and even life savings.


Peroni assists his clients with incorporating their beliefs into their financial planning. Free sites like MoralMoney highlight potential advisors and provide free screening tools and subscription sites like IW Financial provide professionals with additional data collection, Peroni says.


"I see more and more people now losing trust in individuals and corporations," Peroni says.





KUWAIT CITY, Feb 1: Rapporteur of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee MP Moham-mad Al-Kandari has underscored the need to pass other laws to protect the rights of private sector employees and domestic workers. Al-Kandari also commended the Parliament for approving, in principle, the new Private Sector Labor Law despite the need to amend some articles which, he hopes, will be included in the second reading, so that the law can be comprehensive and complete in all aspects.  Without elaborating on what changes he exactly required, he urged the government to present proposals, which guarantee the rights of all expatriate workers. He added that some proposals in this connection are being studied to give these workers their rights and privileges.


Al-Kandari also said the executive authority should address the problems of expatriate workers, especially human trafficking because this was the main reason why Kuwait had been included among countries which are said to be involved in human trade. On another development, members of the Investigative Committee tasked to look into the oil sector issues like the Dow Chemical deal and fourth refinery project met for the first time Sunday and appointed MP Abdullah Al-Roumi as chairman and MP Rija Al-Hujailan as rapporteur. Al-Hujailan revealed the committee agreed to hold its second meeting on Feb 16. He also asked the government to immediately provide all the information required for the committee to start investigating the Dow Chemical deal, fourth refinery project, allocating 25 percent of oil revenues for the state reserves, and the issue Arab Oil Company (AOC). He also unveiled plans of the committee to deliberate on the information in its next meeting as a prelude to setting up its work plan.


Al-Hujailan, on the other hand, called on the concerned authorities to quickly take concrete steps to address the economic crisis. He also emphasized the need to hold all those behind the collapse of some companies accountable, asserting these companies have incurred huge losses due to the negligence of their boards of directors, not the global financial meltdown. “We should support companies facing real economic problems provided their assets are safe. However, some companies will not survive even if they obtain support from the government due to their administrative problems. In this case, we should evaluate the assets, investment portfolios, and behavior of the administrators of these companies to find appropriate solutions to the problem,” Al-Hujailan opined.


 On a related issue, MP Dr Mohammed Al-Hatlani argued it is illogical for the government to establish funds to support the investment companies without addressing the loans write-off issue. He said the parliamentary session earmarked for the discussion of the economic crisis on Feb 10 is a chance for the government to prove its commitment to solve the loans issue.

On the grilling of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Al-Hatlani agreed that MPs have the right to grill erring ministers but is not good for the country if the parliamentarians will grill the premier due to controversies surrounding the Dow Chemical deal. “The timing is not right, especially since the Parliament is now close to passing the Private Sector Labor Law. An investigative committee has been formed, which represents the opinion of all MPs, so we should respect it and wait for its report on the issue,” he added.


Meanwhile, Speaker of the Parliament Jassem Al-Khorafi said he will nominate former MP Abdulaziz Al-Adasani as head of the Audit Bureau in the parliamentary session on Feb 10, adding he believes a majority of parliamentarians support this nomination despite a few holdouts.

Meanwhile, five parliamentarians on Sunday presented a draft bill requiring the government to ‘purchase’ the consumer loans of citizens and reschedule payments.

The proponents of the bill — MPs Dr Daifallah Buramiya, Ali Al-Deqbasi, Saleh Ashour, Abdullah Al-Fahma and Saadoun Al-Otaibi — said in the explanatory note “the economic condition of citizens with unpaid consumer loans has worsened and the magnitude of this problem is beyond the government’s procedures and abilities”. They went on to add that the Needy Fund, set up in 2007 with a value of KD 300 million to help citizens pay their debts, has only assisted 8000 of the 275,000 borrowers. These MPs felt duty-bound to look to other means to help the citizens, especially as the whole world is still grappling with the economic crisis.


Article One of the bill states that it is incumbent upon the government to purchase the consumer loans of citizens obtained from banks and investment companies, not exceeding KD 70,000 per borrower.

This move will cancel all interests on the loans as the government will reschedule payment. Borrowers should then pay the loans monthly for 15 years. They can also define the period of payment but salary deductions should not be more than 25 percent of the borrower’s monthly salary.

Article Three prohibits banks and investment companies from granting loans with interests, which should be replaced with Sharia-compliant loans.

Article Four stipulates the transformation of the banking system to Sharia-compliant methods which, the parliamentarians claim, will be more successful and secure and is being adopted by the West due to the current economic downturn.

As for banks rejecting the Islamic system, they can construct affiliated branches or companies that provide Sharia-compliant services.

The bill also specified the ceiling for citizens loans, which should not be more than 15 times the borrower’s salary and monthly payments should not be more than 50 percent of the salary or pension.


Article Six defines the loan payment procedures by the government to banks and companies operating according to the Islamic Sharia. Citizens benefiting from this bill are permitted to take other loans according to the tenets of Islamic Sharia as long as the monthly installment will not exceed 50 percent of the salary. The bill also obligates the government to rehire Kuwaitis who have been dismissed from their jobs due to their failure to pay their debts and were either imprisoned or chased by security forces and thus failed to go to work. Article Nine excludes ministers, parliamentarians and their first relatives from being beneficiaries of this law. Money required to execute this bill will be taken from the state’s general reserves and loans paid by citizens will be returned to these reserves. Bouramiya said the discussion on any draft bill for writing off consumer loans was postponed to collect more signatures, indicating he has, so far, collected 24 signatures.

By Dahlia Kholaif and Abubakar A. Ibrahim

Arab Times Staff



The new American President has been conveying his "respect" for the Muslim world from his Inaugural festivities onwards



Frank Gaffney

Tuesday, February 3, 2009



How appropriate that Barack Obama featured Aretha Franklin in his Inaugural festivities since her signature song is "Respect." Literally from the moment she finished belting out "My Country 'Tis of Thee" on Jan. 20, the new president has been conveying his "respect" the Muslim world. Unfortunately, the way he practices it seems to be spelled S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N.


Several observers have noted in recent days that Mr. Obama's outreach to the Muslim world is not only defensive and apologetic. It explicitly embraces a narrative that is factually erroneous and deprecating to his own country.


For example, in his Inaugural address, the president spoke of seeking "a new way forward [with the Muslim world], based on mutual interest and mutual respect." He amplified this idea during his first post-Inaugural interview, which was granted to a Saudi-owned network, Al Arabiya: He is determined to "restore" the "same respect and partnership America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."


The problem with this formulation is that it misrepresents the more distant as well as the recent past, even as it panders to those (abroad and at home) who would blame the United States for the ills of the Muslim world. As Charles Krauthammer put it in his syndicated column last week, over the last 20 years, "America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. ... It is both false and injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized."


The president also told Al Arabiya that: "My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries." Lest there be any doubt about the priority he attaches to this messaging, Mr. Obama repeated the point. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."


For good measure, the new president described America as a country of "Muslims, Christians, Jews" and others - a presumably intentional upgrading of adherents to the faith of his father, Islam, from the second place position he accorded them in his State of the Union address several days before. (The rankings of both orderings obviously reflect something other than demographics; there are far fewer Muslims than Christians in the United States and, according to independent estimates, only half as many - or less - than Jews.)


Mr. Obama has also seriously mischaracterized our enemy as "a far-reaching network of violence and hatred," averring "We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence done in that faith's name." Such statements deliberately ignore the animating and unifying role in jihad of authoritative Islam's violent and hateful theo-political-legal program: Shariah.


What is really worrying is that Mr. Obama's actions and rhetoric are almost certainly being perceived by his target audience as evidence not of respect but of subservience - precisely what Islam (literally, "submission" in Arabic) requires of all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims, alike. Consider the following:


c Mr. Obama has made no secret of his desire to cultivate improved relations with the mullahs of Iran, who have repressed their people and threatened ours for 30 years. It appears he started to do so months before his election, as a senior campaign adviser, former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry, met repeatedly with a representative of Iran's genocide-supporting president, Mahmoud Ahamadinejad. In recent days, Obama special envoy for Afghan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, hired as a senior adviser Professor Vali Reza Nasr - an Iranian expatriate with an appalling record of shilling for the Islamic Revolutionary Iranian regime.


c According to, a newsletter published by The Washington Times' ace national security reporter Bill Gertz, "Diplomatic sources said Barack Obama has engaged several Arab intermediaries to relay messages to and from al Qaeda in the months before his elections as the 44th U.S. president. The sources said al Qaeda has offered what they termed a truce in exchange for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. 'For the last few months, Obama has been receiving and sending feelers to those close to al Qaeda on whether the group would end its terrorist campaign against the United States,' a diplomatic source said. 'Obama sees this as helpful to his plans to essentially withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first term in office.' "


If surrender in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran were not enough, upcoming opportunities for Mr. Obama to exhibit American submission to Islam include ordering U.S. participation in the United Nations' "Durban II" conference - thereby legitimating its Iranian-dictated, rabidly anti-Israel, anti-American, Holocaust-denying and "Islamophobia"-banning agenda; adopting the program for undermining Israel promoted by longtime Friends-of-Barack Rashid Khalidi and Samantha Power (the latter just appointed a senior National Security Council official); and reversing the FBI's long-overdue decision to end its association with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent front organization of the Muslim Brotherhood (whose stated mission is "to destroy America from within.")


Whatever Barack Obama's intentions, the kind of "respect" he is exhibiting toward Shariah-adherent Muslims will surely be seen by them as submission. And that spells only one thing: D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.


Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.



OIC calls for measures against rising vandalism in Crimea

OIC expressed "concerns about the rising of vandalism targeting holy places and shrines of Muslims in Crimea".

Tuesday, 03 February 2009 07:15

World Bulletin / News Desk

A spokesman of the OIC Observatory on Islamophobia expressed "concerns about the rising of vandalism targeting holy places and shrines of Muslims in Crimea".


OIC said in a statement on its website, "mosques was desecrated and the monuments of famous figures of the Crimean Tatar people erected in Crimean towns as well as gravestones in cemeteries were destroyed and defaced by extremists".


He said that "such deplorable activities are beyond all accepted norms of civilized behaviour and would pose threat to inter communal peace and harmony in the society."


The spokesman "called for immediate strong measures to be taken by the authorities against the perpetrators of such extremist and hateful acts who are common enemies to the entire international community and to put an end to such incidents."